Tag Archive | crime

U = Unbreakable Code, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (book review) – hot book hunt or literary fire bug?

book cover of Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCoded messages in books,
ships beneath buildings,
an arsonist who must be stopped!

Emily and James are always on the hunt for books hidden by fellow Book Scavenger fans, but when coded clues in particular volumes link up with revenge-fueled fires at listed hidden-book sites, they decide to solve the mystery… but the fire bug is watching them!

Happy book birthday to The Unbreakable Code! You can read this second adventure in the series by itself, but will enjoy it even more if you get the full background in book one, Book Scavenger (my no-spoiler recommendation here).

Be sure to visit the Book Scavenger game website if you want to report a found book or register a book to hide yourself – there are hundreds hidden all over the USA!

What ‘lost treasure’ from a favorite author would you like to find?
**kmm

Book info:The Unbreakable Code (Book Scavengers, book 2) / Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, with illustrations by Sarah Watts. Holt Books for Young Readers, 2017. [Book Scavenger site]  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.

My book talk: The unbreakable code? As Emily and James seek out hidden books in the Book Scavenger game, the middle schoolers discover a secret message that sets them hunting for information on Gold Rush ships buried beneath San Francisco’s skyscrapers and the code that author Mark Twain said could never be broken.

But someone with a grudge is setting fires at Book Scavenger hiding places and doesn’t want the young teens to discover the next fire site…ever.

What does their teacher (and fellow Book Scavenger) know about the code – and the fires?
Why must they help with the school dance now when they want work on this mystery?
Ciphers, codes, clues – which ones to follow?

As the fires strike closer to what’s important to Emily and James, they must decide who to trust and how far they can go on their own. Second book in the Book Scavenger series, following Book Scavenger.

P is A Pocket Full of Murder & magic & treachery, by R. J. Anderson (book review)

book cover of A Pocket Full of Murder by RJ Anderson published by Atheneum BFYR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCommon spells to wash clothes,
intricate spells to power vehicles,
Sagery spells to steal your breath away – forever.

Writing more adventures of lady justice Auradia won’t put food on the table or get Papa out of jail, so Isaveth and Quiz, an eyepatch-wearing streetboy, decide to save Papa by discovering who really had reason to kill the governor of Tarreton College, but someone wants them to stop!

Step into Isaveth’s world of spell-tablets, political scheming, and religious intolerance with the first chapter of A Pocket Full of Magic here, courtesy of the author.

Now in paperback, followed by A Little Taste of Poison (hardcover 2016).

Who’s the friend who’ll help you with any mystery?
**kmm

Book info: A Pocket Full of Murder (Uncommon Magic, book 1) / R.J. Anderson. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After Papa is unjustly arrested for murder, 12 year old Isaveth searches for clues from her impoverished neighborhood to the wealthy districts of Tarreton, assisted by ingenious streetkid Quiz, with his eyepatch and uncanny knowledge of society gossip.

Baking and selling spell-tablets from her late mother’s recipes is Isaveth’s best chance to feed her sisters and find out more about Papa’s case, with Quiz appearing just in time during dangerous situations.

Who made it look like Common Magic killed Master Orien?
Was Papa framed because of his Moshite beliefs or his support of the Workers’ Club?
Where does Quiz go when he’s not helping Isaveth?

In a world powered by Common spells and elite Sagery, someone is trying to gain political power, no matter who stands against them, but Isaveth and Quiz won’t let her Papa take the blame for murder! Followed by A Little Taste of Poison.

N for Rachel Neumeier, writing of the war coming to Mountain of Kept Memory (book review)

book cover of The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier published by Saga Press  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWar on the horizon,
her country’s sometime-god is neutral.
Kick-ass princess leaps into web of diplomacy and deceit.

If Oressa and her brother can stymie the ambition and treachery of their father the King, there’s a tiny chance of avoiding invasion by neighboring country.
Maybe the mysterious Kieba who watches over the dead gods’ memory will help them.
Maybe the brutal princes from across the sea won’t arrive.

Read an extract of epic fantasy The Mountain of Kept Memory here (courtesy of the author) to see how Oressa – and her country – got into this predicament of plagues, princes with visions of conquest, and powerless gods.

What place of power would you like to eavesdrop on?
**kmm

Book info: The Mountain of Kept Memory / Rachel Neumeier. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the author.

My book talk: The King will allow invasion, if it gives him the magic he craves, but his daughter Oressa won’t let Carastind become a slave state. With her princely brother’s help, the young woman travels to the Kieba’s spell-woven mountain domain, looking for answers that will save her homeland.

Lusting for power, the invading princes may unleash catastrophe.
Observing from a distance, the Keiba may act or may not.
Seeking peace for Carastind, Oressa may become a hostage.

A classic high fantasy with its large cast of characters (each with their own agenda regarding the dead gods’ memories) and swirling alliances, The Mountain of Kept Memory holds secrets dark, surprises deep, and worlds within its stone heart.

M = Mars One & missing & mayhem, by Jonathan Maberry (book review)

book cover of Mars One by Jonathan Maberry published by Simon Schuster BYFR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comSix years to prepare,
Two ships to Mars,
One pair of broken hearts…

Of course, falling in love was an inconsiderate choice on his part, but how could Tristan’s teen self keep away from charming, lovely, phenomenal Izzy – even when he knew that he’d leave the planet forever at age 16?

In this near-future Earth’s desperate gamble to find more room by settling on Mars, not everyone agrees. Despite years of planning and training and built-in safeguards, small disasters begin on the Mars One spaceships – how?

Should humankind keep reaching for the stars?
**kmm

Book info:  Mars One / Jonathan Maberry. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As part of Earth’s first colony crew to Mars, 16 year old Tristan is elated, fully trained, and ready to launch… except that part about leaving girlfriend Izzy forever and worrying about anti-Mars violence coming to their Wisconsin hometown.

Intense preparations for launch of Mars One’s first two ships have taken years, bypassed national borders, and been documented on all media. Even Izzy’s and Tristan’s “doomed romance” is a reality TV show (paying for her college, that’s why). And the Neo-Luddites have protested every step of the way, now bombing sites related to the mission.

One of four teens on Mars One, Tristan has faith in his mom’s rigorous engineering safety checks – why are systems having problems in space?
These families have been training together for so long – can they keep finding solutions?
Psychological testing over and over – no one aboard either ship wants the mission to fail, right?

The further the two ships travel from Earth, the longer the communications delay becomes – goodbye, Izzy. Goodbye, everything?

L is Laurent Linn’s novel about art & self, Draw the Line (book review)

book cover of Draw the Line by Laurent Linn published by Margaret K McElderry Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comStay quiet.
Avoid the bullies.
If it’s only words…

Adrian cannot escape reality with video games and his graphic novel art any longer! He must stand up to Doug and the other thugs whose gay-bashing has gone from talk to violence or he won’t be able to live with himself…if he survives their wrath, that is.

Visit the book’s website here to meet all the characters who’ve moved from Adrian’s real world into the graphic novel that he’d rather live in.

The paperback of Draw the Line releases in May 2017, but grab it now to see how this epic superhero battle on paper turns out in real life.

Standing up for what’s right – who’s next?
**kmm

Book info: Draw the Line / Laurent Linn; illustrations by Laurent Linn. Margaret K McElderry Books, 2016. [book website] [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Adrian escapes from his homophobic rural Texas high school by creating the detailed Renaissance world of gay superhero Graphite in graphic novel art, until violence demands action.

He finally has a date with super-sweet Lev (‘Teen Drag Queen Bingo’ in Dallas – who knew?), when a hate crime shocks their town, and Adrian knows that he must finally speak out and come out – at home and at school – regardless of the consequences.

Can the support of best friends Audrey and Trent keep him strong?
How can the school and town turn a blind eye to Doug’s attacks?
When will Adrian being himself be good enough for everyone else?

Chapters of his graphic novel with Graphite, Sultry, Willow, Oasis, and villainous Thug punctuate this story of becoming true to yourself and standing up for everyone’s rights.

K is for North Korea & wishing on Every Falling Star, by Sungju Lee & Susan McClelland (book review)

book cover of Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland published by Amulet Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comPrivilege to poverty,
family love to forlorn abandonment,
North Korea then is still North Korea now.

From the easy life as child of favored Army officer to outcast thief and gang member, Sungju kept trying to understand the ‘why’ of changes and finally knew that risking death to escape from North Korea was better than living in his homeland impoverished by dictatorship and lies.

This finalist for the 2016 CYBILS Award for young adult nonfiction brings us unsettling glimpses into a world rarely seen and difficult to imagine.

Without the support of your family, how would you survive a hostile new environment?
**kmm

Book info: Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea / Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland. Amulet Books, 2016.   [author Facebook page]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sungju’s family is flung from high-status to deep poverty after a regime change, as his autobiography reveals the disinformation used to repress North Korean citizens

In a forced relocation from the capital city to a desolate rural town after his father is removed from the military, food and clothing are in short supply, Father reluctantly leaves to find more, Mother doesn’t return from visiting relatives, and suddenly young teen Sungju finds himself living on the street and running a gang of homeless kids.

Why haven’t his parents returned?
What else can he do to survive?
How did Sungju escape to write this memoir?

Almost dystopian in its bleakness and violence, this true story of family, loss, and hope echoes what countless other children and families experience in North Korea even today.

G is Ghost, running from everything, by Jason Reynolds (book review)

book cover of Ghost by Jason Reynolds published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comPractice running? Every day?
As fast as he is? Nah…
But winning takes more than speed.

If middle-schooler Ghost can outrun that one terrible night, win his way onto the track team coached by an Olympic medalist, and get the right shoes, then he might just make it out of his NYC neighborhood.

Listen to the author read chapter one at the publisher’s website here for free, to learn exactly why Ghost started running so fast.

The paperback of Ghost (yep, named a National Book Award finalist *after* I read it) releases in August 2017, when book 2 of the series, Patina is published. I loved Reynolds’ Boy in the Black Suit (my no-spoiler review here), and I’m looking forward to the rest of this Track series!

Are you running to something or from it?
**kmm

Book info: Ghost (Track, book 1) / Jason Reynolds. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Running fast makes Ghost a better basketball player, but when he happens upon a track team practicing in the park, the middle schooler decides he’s faster than they are… and proves it.

Coach Brody convinces Mom to let Ghost run with the team, as long as he stays out of trouble at school. Not gonna be easy, is it?

How can Ghost afford the shoes and uniforms for a Junior Olympic qualifying team?
What if he messes up at school?
Why can’t he forget what sped up his running to start with?

First in the Track series, Ghost shows a solitary young man teetering between staying a loner and becoming a teammate, while still running from his indecisions.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (fiction) – police + prejudice = self-protection or murder?

book cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas published by Balzer + Bray  | recommended on BooksYALove.comUnarmed, he’s shot by police.
Horrified, she’s the only witness.
Telling the truth will endanger her family – can she do it?

At 16, Starr should be concerned with grades, love, and her future – not drive-by shootings and police brutality in her poor neighborhood, not white kids at her suburban private school “protesting” Kahlil’s death as a way to skip class, not worrying if her testimony will bring down the wrath of gang members and police.

Happy book birthday to The Hate U Give – wish it could be purely fiction, instead of ‘straight from the headlines’ lived experience…

How can we stop this cycle of threat, miscommunication, and death?
**kmm

Book info:The Hate U Give / Angie Thomas. Balzer + Bray, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kahlil’s murder during a routine traffic stop upends 16 year old Starr’s world as she mourns her friend’s death with her inner city neighbors, struggles to explain it to her white prep school classmates, and must decide whether to testify against that police officer, endangering everything.

Starr is two versions of herself – automatically cool black girl at the suburban prep school her parents sacrifice to pay for and then “Big Mav’s daughter who work in the store” in their poor neighborhood.

Truth or safety? Gangs and their turf wars are woven into Garden Heights.
Will her testimony send the white cop to trial? Not likely.
Can she keep being two different people, at home and at school? Tension, pressure…

If white boyfriend Chris finds out that Starr is the only witness to Kahlil’s death, surely he’ll treat her differently, and that she just couldn’t bear.

Too true, too real, The Hate U Give moves from one fatal mistake to a torrent of prejudgment and violence.

Racism, riot, murders: Dreamland Burning (fiction), by Jennifer Latham

book cover of Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham published by Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRioting and looting for 14 hours,
Murder, torture, arson –
Whites erasing black community

Will is already uncomfortable as son of white father and Osage mother, so when the KKK starts recruiting in Tulsa just as he’s getting to know a Negro brother and sister, how should he react?

Rowan didn’t expect to find a body in her Tulsa yard this summer, or to swap comfortable lab internship for charity clinic work on ‘that side’ of town, or to be slammed with prejudices that her black mother and white father had shielded her from.

Listen to an interview with author Jennifer Latham here for some deep background and insights on why she wrote this book about this 1921 event which wasn’t openly discussed by black or white families in Tulsa for over 50 years.

Happy book birthday to Dreamland Burning! Look for it at your local library or independent bookstore, and find Jennifer’s first book Scarlett Undercover (my no-spoiler recommendation here) there, too.

How to see friendship as a bridge instead of a wall?
**kmm

Book info: Dreamland Burning / Jennifer Latham. Little Brown, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: First day of Rowan’s summer vacation – time to sleep in before lab internship begins, text her best friend, find a dead body in the back yard!? As the biracial teen investigates, details about Tulsa’s vicious and never-discussed 1921 race riot hit her as hard as the new episodes of prejudice she experiences today.

Working in Pop’s store, William sees his father sell Victrolas to Negro families, despite Jim Crow laws. Vernon Fish is recruiting Pop for the KKK and mocks Will as ‘half-breed’ for his Osage mother. Will decides to dare as his Pop does when a black teen wants to buy a record player, little imagining that getting to know Joseph and little sister Ruby as people instead of Negroes may shortly endanger all their lives.

Schedule glitch nixes Rowan’s resume-building internship, so she’s directed to work at the free clinic way across town from her fancy neighborhood and private school. She’ll check with her parents later.

In 1921, reports of a Negro man assaulting a white woman spread like wildfire, and white Tulsans begin attacking the black Greenwood section of town with nooses, guns, and greed.

Can Will really shoot anyone coming to the shop during the riot?
Who is the body under the floor of the servant house?
How does Rowan’s story today converge with Will’s actions over 90 years ago?

Told in voices past and present, this long-silenced episode of history comes vividly alive, as Rowan tries to understand what really happened after World War I when Will struggled to help Joseph and Ruby survive.

Stone Mirrors, breaking sculpture barriers (fiction), by Jeannine Atkins

book cover of Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccused unjustly, white against black.
Hurt unfairly, strong against weak.
Dream pursued intensely, self against society.

How did an impoverished young woman, orphaned by her Ojibwe (Chippewa) mother and freedman black father, overcome being on trial for white classmates’ poisoning during the Civil War to become a prominent sculptor living in Italy?

Check out the Google Doodle honoring her on Feb. 1, to meet Edmonia Lewis, whose determination to create art drove her to become the first noted woman sculptor of African-American and Native American descent.

Read an excerpt for this January 2017 novel in verse here courtesy of the publisher, then head to your local library or independent bookstore.

How far would you travel to accomplish your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sketching is like breathing for Edmonia, but her art classes at Oberlin Academy can’t prepare the scholarship girl for false accusations of theft and poisoning which may steal her opportunity to be an artist.

Living in the North during the Civil War doesn’t make the skin given by her freedman father any less dark. Dressing in crinolines like her white classmates doesn’t lessen her longing for the forests and woodsmoke of her mother’s Ojibwe village. Being poor and different does make her the ideal scapegoat for her white classmates’ indiscreet drinking – “poisoned by Edmonia!”

Days in the courtroom, scholarship revoked, the young woman must leave town, earn a living, seek the smallest possibility that she may ever sculpt again – and she leaps at opportunity when it finds her!

This novel in verse illumines the sparse facts of Edmonia’s life with possible details as we watch her grow into a noted sculptor living in Italy in the late 1800s when neither women nor persons of color were celebrated for their artistic talents.